Contest · Fashion

Fall Wardrobe: Reversible Green Sweater Coat

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View A from the Vogue Website

As I was planning my Fall wardrobe, my Oct./Nov. 2018 issue of Threads Magazine arrived.

I soaked up Becky Fulgoni’s article “Single Layer and Reversible.” There were so many great ideas for making garments from double-faced fabrics (or just fabrics with an equally interesting wrong side). I already knew I had the perfect fabric to make the loose casual jacket in Vogue Patterns’ V9275.  The jacket (View A) is intended to be lined, but I thought a reversible version would be even better.

The fabric is a sweater knit with a squishy olive green boucle on the right side. I think the wrong side is just as interesting: a smooth black with olive flecks. It’s lighter than it looks, so it would be for outside on crisp days or wearing indoors.

Planning

I did several tests before I started. I needed to find seam, hem and closure treatments that would work with my sweater knit and also look good from both sides. Once I figured out which worked best, I started planning in earnest.

Above: I tested binding and seam techniques using swatches like this.

I have found that sketching projects helps me plan. When I work through details on paper, I find I almost always need to make changes. This time, I had to do double the sketches, because I needed to visualize how it would look from either side. Sure enough, I realized that I had to account for the knit collar and cuffs in my plan.

Above: Puzzling it out

I used most of the pattern pieces for the jacket. But to make it reversible, I omitted the side seam pockets and back shoulder darts.

Editing for Reversibility

look5editMy version differs from the original in many ways:

  • Two sided pocket: patch pocket on green side; slot pocket on black side (details below)
  • Flat-felled seams
  • Instead of hemming, bind the lower edge
  • Use a reversible separating zipper for the opening
  • Trim and bind front opening before zipper application
  • Zipper tape exposed on black side; hidden on green side (see below)
  • Slip-stitch cuffs and collar on black side to give them a finished look
  • Decorative, error-hiding buttons
Two-Sided Pocket

The Threads article described a technique for making a pocket accessible from either side. From one side, it is a patch pocket. From the other, it is a slot seam pocket. I love this idea! Here is my slightly different method:

  1. Make the slot seam. I was using bound raw edges as a design element throughout the garment, so it made sense to use them for the pocket slot as well.
  2. Cut the front pieces along what will be the new seam line. Because I was binding the edges, I did not need to add seam allowances.
  3. Apply binding to slot seam raw edges. To keep the seam from stretching, I set my machine to use the longest straight stitch. I didn’t use a stretch stitch because I wanted the slot seam to be stable. Some machines have an option to reduce presser foot pressure. If you have it, this is why. It really helps with lofty stretch fabrics.
  4. Join the top and bottom of each front piece. I chose to apply strips of grosgrain ribbon to the green side. They will not show, since the slot is only visible from the black side.
  5. Draft a patch pocket piece to have an ample side opening, making sure it is placed where your hands go. Mine covers the entire width of the jacket, ending at the same place as the jacket bottom. Ensure that the pockets completely cover the slot opening.
  6. Cut two patch pockets and two lining pieces. I made my lining from the same quilting cotton I used for my princess seamed top.
  7. Sew the right side of the lining to the green side of the pocket piece for each side. Only the upper edge and pocket opening need to be sewn. Trim, turn, press.
  8. Topstitch pockets to front pieces. Again, only the upper edge and pocket opening need to be sewn.

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Two Sided Zipper

This is my first separating zipper, exposed zipper application, and reversible zipper. I think it’s the first time I have tried putting one in a sweater knit. So I am going to forgive myself for putting it in a little too low. I think it looks nice from the green side, where the zipper tape is hidden. The exposed tape on the black side looks… just ok. I would like to find a nice trim to cover it with, but I don’t have anything on hand right now. The main problem is that by putting it in too low, there is a janky looking gap between where the tape ends and the collar.

The only thing I could think of was to sew buttons at the neckline to hide the tape end. I didn’t have anything that I liked, so I made a couple of cover buttons. I think it looks pretty good.

Above: The exposed zipper tape didn’t line up the first time. Then it didn’t quite reach the top of the jacket. I made a couple of cover buttons to conceal the ends.

Non-bias bias

Making the large amount of binding was really simple. Since the material was already stretchy and shapable, there was no need to cut bias strips. All I had to do was cut parallel strips across the grain.

Stability without interfacing

Stability was an unexpected factor in planning for reversibility. The sweater knit was fairly loose and floppy, so it had to have something otherwise I’m sure it would begin to grow with use. Interfacing was out, of course. The seams, pockets, and zippers serve that function.

I was pleased that even though there was some loft to the knit, it could be compressed enough to make flat felled seams. The traditional method results in two parallel lines of straight stitches. I did it that way for the shoulder seams, and quickly realized that keeping the green fluff from escaping the seam was going to be a problem. So I used a zigzag stitch for the final step instead of a straight stitch for the remaining seams. The zigzag pinned everything down, kept it controlled, and was much easier to sew.

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Above: Some of the jacket’s design features

Supplies

I think this is my favorite thing in my Fall wardrobe so far. It’s so versatile. And how about those set-in sleeves? 😉

Coming soon: a bra-top camisole. Until then, happy sewing!

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Reference

Threads Magazine: Reversible Garment Inspiration

This is my fourth garment in patternreview.com‘s 2018 Mini Wardrobe Contest

I reviewed the pattern here.

reversable sweater coat 20

Fashion

Lazy Winter 1: Greenstyle Brassie Joggers

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Front view

After finishing my pinstripe trouser and vest, I was ready for something quick and easy. Winter holidays mean lots of lounging around, enjoying all kinds of delicious food, and generally not trying too hard. With that in mind, I pulled out a nice dark gray french terry I bought without a plan last year. (Another 2018 New Year’s resolution – stop doing that!). I was going to make some awesome DIY sweatpants!

Some of the features I wanted were fitted silhouette, pockets, elastic rather than drawstring waistband, cuffs instead of elastic on the legs, and a nice, long length. I decided to use the Greenstyle Brassie Joggers PDF, which offered all of those options. I haven’t used independent pattern designers very often, since patterns from the Big 4 pattern brands (Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick, and McCall’s) are so inexpensive and familiar. The pattern sells for $10, which is more than I am used to spending. But I like the idea of helping new designers and at the same time contributing to a more diverse marketplace. (The Big 4 and several others are now all owned by the same parent company).

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Side View

Once I purchased it, I was able to download the PDF pattern and instruction files to my laptop immediately. If I had wanted to, I could have printed out the pattern right then on 19 sheets of printer paper. But then I would have had to tape them together. That didn’t seem like a lot of fun, so I went with option B – sending the included “copyshop” version of the pattern (one great big page) to a printer.

I looked into having the printout done where I live, but it was really expensive. Most places were quoting me between $12-$20 per sheet! The best option price-wise right now seems to pdfplotting.com be where you can have black and white sheets printed for a more reasonable $0.60 to $5.70 per page, depending on size.

Once I had my sheet, I unrolled it and set about planning. Mainstream patterns have been printed on thin, semi-transparent tissue since at least the 1920s. Tissue is easy to cut and pin through, although you need to be careful not to tear it. Regardless of who does the printing, PDF patterns will use opaque office paper. I rely on being able to pin through my pattern. I also want to be able to see through it well enough to make sure that I have stripes and other designs placed where I want them. So I went through one more step and transferred my size to Swedish tracing paper. It wasn’t too much work, and using the tracing paper is actually much nicer than using tissue. It’s sturdy, semi-transparent, and does not shift and blow around as easily.

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One of those pesky pockets

Careful reading of the instructions is important. This pattern assumes a 3/8″ seam allowance instead of the typical 5/8. If you don’t need to let out any seams, 3/8″ is great. The serger works best with 3/8″ width, and of course, you won’t waste as much fabric.

There is a line drawing of the pants on the first page, but no pictures or line drawings of the many length and finish options. On the other hand, every step is thoroughly explained and supplemented with illustrations. Another nice thing is that the designer’s website features pictures of customers’ finished pants in all kinds of sizes and styles.

Despite all that, I managed to mistake the back pieces for the front ones. I sewed the pockets to the back crotch curve.  I had to completely re-cut the backs and pockets. Luckily, I had enough scrap to cut out two more pieces, but I had to give up 2 inches of length. So. Capri length it is!

One thing I liked about the construction was using fusible interfacing strips to stabilize the curved pocket openings before turning under and topstitching. I used the heat-n-bond soft stretch tape again and it really made a nice stable curve. Because it was fused in place, I didn’t have to mess with pinning it, so stitching went much faster. Good thing – since I had to do it twice! I’ll definitely be using this trick on future projects.

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Back View

The pattern features a waistband with both a drawstring and elastic in separate casings. I like this option, since I think the drawstring is a nice look, but I don’t love pants that use drawstrings alone. Instead of a drawstring, I used a length of black ribbon. It was less of a style choice than finding something on hand that would work. I can always rethread a drawstring later if I don’t like it.

The pants turned out to be ankle length when all was said and done. I like them a lot. They are really comfortable – easy wear and easy care.

I can definitely see using this pattern again. Maybe shorts length or even as pajama bottoms.

Next time: the companion top to my lazy winter outfit.